Hundreds of people took to the streets in Barcelona to protest a police crackdown in Catalonia to stop an independence referendum in the region.
Protestors, many of them students, waved the Catalan independence flag Monday and held up signs demanding more democracy outside the headquarters of the Spanish police in Barcelona. Demonstrations also took place in several other Catalan cities, including Girona and Lleida.
The violence followed a police crackdown during Sunday’s independence referendum. Officials in Catalonia said nearly 900 people were injured when police tried to keep residents from voting in the referendum, deemed unconstitutional by the Spanish courts.
Video from Sunday showed police dragging people from polling stations and beating and kicking would-be voters and demonstrators.
Spain’s Interior Ministry said Monday that more than 430 National Police and Civil Guard agents suffered injuries from the clashes.
Amnesty International says its observers witnessed “excessive use of force” by Spanish police.
European leaders on Monday urged dialogue between Spain’s government and authorities in Catalonia. A spokesman for the European Commission said the referendum was “not legal” but said that “violence can never be an instrument in politics.”
The commission, the executive arm of the 28-nation EU, said in a Twitter message that “these are times for unity and stability, not divisiveness and fragmentation.”
EU chief Donald Tusk appealed to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajov on Monday to “avoid further escalation and use of force” in the standoff.